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After five years of living in China, and two years of This Beijing Life, things have changed. I left my job as a college counselor in China, and now I’m living a life on my terms. I’m my own boss, I travel when I want, and live where I want. I’m FINALLY living my dream of location independence.
I hope you’ll all follow me along on my new journey: The Freedom Life.
What I Was Up to In June
This month I took a quick visa run to Chiang Mai where I ate ALL OF THE THAI FOOD. I also got a new batch of foster kittens, had a bridesmaid dress catastrophe with a local tailor, and finally applied to be on the show Survivor!
Where I Was This Month
- Hoi An, Vietnam
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
Overall this was a pretty good month in Southeast Asia!
Quick Trip to Chiang Mai
This month I went on a quick visa trip to Chiang Mai Thailand! Chris and I have already done most of the touristy activities there, so we decided to treat it more like a vacation and sneak peek into what our lives might be like if we choose to move there next year.
We visited a few coffee shops and shopping centers, watched a movie, researched coworking spaces (none of which are as epic as the Hub Hoi An, despite there being a TON of them), and met up with our blogger friend Justin and his fiance for dinner.
Overall it was a really good trip! While Chiang Mai isn’t as beautiful as Hoi An, it definitely has a lot more amenities, so we’re seriously considering living there in the future!
New Baby Rescue Kittens
This one is pretty bittersweet, but we had to give back our three foster kittens and take on two new foster babies. I’ll talk more about WHY in the challenges section, but just know that we do love our two new foster kittens Woody and Jessie, who are doing great!
Woody an Jessie were originally left to die in a dumpster (come ON Hoi An, seriously?), and were rescued by Jack’s Cat Cafe with their two brothers Buzz and Andy (who are with another foster family). They were only about 2 weeks old and were nursed to health by the staff. Now they’re happy and crazy in our house!
These two kittens are literally the cutest ever, especially Woody who is literally PAINFULLY CUTE. I honestly can’t seem to perfectly capture his cuteness in a photo, but just know that his face literally melts my eyes.
I FINALLY Applied for Survivor
If you didn’t already know that I’m obsessed with the show Survivor… well, now you know! I’ve been dreaming of applying to the show for YEARS and I finally created and sent in my audition tape.
Sometimes it can be so easy to put off your dreams by telling yourself that “someday” you will get around to it. Well, I finally realized that there’s NEVER going to be a right time to drop everything and live on a deserted island for a month, so there’s no point putting it off any longer!
It’s very important to me that I live my life in a way that I never have to wonder “What if?”. The last thing I want is to sit there in my rocking chair at 80 years old and WISH that I applied for Survivor, quit my job to travel, or started my own business. Now I can at least say I’ve done all three!
Is anyone else here weirdly obsessed with Survivor? Let me know!
I Hosted a Kitten Party!
A few days before I had to give my kittens back to Jack’s Cat Cafe, I decided to host a Kitten Party to see if I could get them adopted. I took them all to the Hub Hoi An coworking space so that people could meet them!
While I didn’t succeed in getting them adopted, I did at least have a great time while telling everyone about what Jack’s Cat Cafe and Vietnam Cat Welfare are doing in Hoi An! I also MIGHT have found someone who is interested in adopting (I’ll keep you posted!).
Not everything this month was perfect. Here were the downsides!
Giving My Kittens Back to Jack’s Cat Cafe
Obviously, I was NOT excited to give my babies back to Jack’s Cat Cafe. Now many people have been wondering why I had to give them back, so I figured I’d quickly explain how it works.
Basically, until the kittens can be fully vaccinated, they have to live in cages or stay in the homes of the volunteers because they can’t mix with the other cats. In order to create room for new rescues, Jack’s tries to find fosters to take them while we wait for them to be old enough to get their vaccines.
Once they’re fully vaccinated, we bring them back to the cafe so A) we can take a new batch of kittens out of the cages and B) the vaccinated kittens can get used to being around so many other cats while they’re still young.
While dropping off Rory, Beanie and Lady was extremely hard, it was good to visit them a week later when we picked up our new kittens. All three were doing great, and Beanie was actually sitting in a guest’s lap! They all seemed to be having fun playing with the other teenage kittens and interacting with guests.
It did break my heart when they followed Chris and I to the gate as we left. Noooooo!
(If you’re curious to learn more, I wrote an entire post on Vietnam’s stray cats, the cat meat trade, and how you can help!
Putting Too Much On My Plate
This month was pretty intense work-wise. I ended up taking on way too many extra projects and it almost killed me! Last month I was a little worried about finances (especially with the wedding coming up), so I decided to apply to a few freelancing gigs. At the same time, I was also approached by a few people wanting me to write about teaching abroad and my online course!
Well, all of these things all piled on top of one another until I was two seconds away from a breakdown. The situation made me realize that while yes, money is important, I also need to leave enough time to focus on my blog and online course.
I ended up leaving one of the long-term projects early, which I still feel really guilty about. However, it definitely wasn’t the right fit for me.
I also decided to start recording videos for a new Youtube Channel (yay!!), because when you’re busy, why not add more things to make you even busier?
Bridesmaid’s Dress Tailoring Catastrophe
Long story short, the bridesmaids’ dresses I was super excited about last month came back and… they were not cute. While I love the color, the fabric is just WRONG for the look I was going for. While I tried to make it work (especially since I paid a 50% deposit), I knew pretty much immediately that this fabric was just not the right choice.
When you’re getting your stuff tailored in Vietnam please do your research. I went with a tailor that was recommended to me by a few people, but she honestly cared more about the sale than actually making sure the dress looked good.
The type of convertible infinity dress I wanted needs stretchy fabric, and the fabric we chose was not stretchy at all. Because of this, it didn’t conform to my body and literally added 15 lbs to me in photos.
I have a friend in Hoi An who was a professional designer and made custom wedding dresses, so I asked her to come with me to my fitting. She was PISSED at the tailor. Not only was the fabric wrong. she also created unnecessary seams to save on fabric and a bunched elastic waist that was not flattering.
When Chris’ mom (who sews kids clothes professionally) also told me to scrap the dress, I knew I had to do it. While the dresses aren’t AWFUL, they’re not easy breezy, comfortable, or flattering. Also, I shared the photos of the dress in a wedding planning Facebook group and a bunch of people told me my boobs looked like a ballsack so…
In the end, we decided to scrap them and go for a slightly more expensive but 1,000X better version online. I’m in negotiations with the tailor now to figure out if I can at least take one or two of the bridesmaid’s dresses and turn it into some sort of cocktail dress for myself so I’m not just out $150. Wish me luck.
Meal Prepping for Dummies
Why did I pick the busiest month of my life to try and figure out how to meal prep. I mean… I’ve been kind of meal prepping things here and there (making larger dinners so I have leftovers and pre-cooking chicken in batches), but I went all out for a week this month.
For an entire week, I made my menu in advance, planned what I would eat for every meal and ordered in bulk. Of course, the chicken I ordered arrived and was BAD, which screwed everything up. I also didn’t take into account the lack of preservatives here (which is probably a good thing?), so half the food I ordered started wilting and going bad as well.
Who knew carrots in Vietnam literally become bendy rubber after two days? I guess I’ll just have to go grocery shopping every other day if I want to make cooking all my meals a priority.
If anyone has some suggestions or advice on meal prepping, please send them to me!
What I Wrote in May
This month I created the Ultimate Guide to Hiking China’s Great Wall! After hiking NINE different sections of the Great Wall (some more than once), I figured it was finally time for me to create the ultimate resource with all the awesome sections in one place. Some are officially open to tourists, whereas others are Wild Wall sections that require sneaking on by climbing a ladder!
In addition to my Great Wall Ultimate Guide, I also created an Ultimate teach abroad guide for my friend Jeremy from TravelFreak: Everything You Should Know Before Teaching English in China! If you’re looking to teach abroad, definitely check out that post, and grab my free guide: 10 Steps to Landing a High Paying Job in China!
- Ultimate Guide to Hiking China’s Great Wall: How to Get Off the Beaten Path and Avoid the Crowds
- The Freedom Life: May 2019
- Everything You Should Know Before Teaching English in China (TravelFreak Guest Post)
Best Instagram Shots
I LOVE this section of the Great Wall (which you can read more about in my new Great Wall guide… hint hint)! Also, I had a great time teaching that Masterclass. If you missed it, be sure to sign up for my next one!
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Last chance to sign up for the free masterclass training this Saturday: How to land a high paying job in China (that’s not a scam)!! – link in bio ☺️ ☀️ I honestly can’t wait for this super intensive training where I’ll walk you step by step though how to find and land the best jobs in China!! ☀️ If you’re at all thinking about arriving to China in the next year, you have to get on this! See you there!! 🌸
The story of tying the prayer flags for a woman in Tibet is one that originally took me a long time to share, mainly because it brought up a lot of emotions that are hard to write about (guilt, shame, feeling privileged). If you want to read the entire story, you can find it here.
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A few years ago a woman with terminal brain cancer asked me to hang prayer flags for her in Tibet because she had always wanted to go but never had the chance. The experience of hanging the flags was a very emotional one, and kept in contact with her for a few months until she eventually passed away. Sometimes I forget to appreciate how lucky I am to be healthy and able bodied. I get caught up in focusing about what’s wrong with my body (I need to lose weight, I’m not in good enough shape, I don’t look good in this outfit) than thanking it for allowing me to do the things I want to do. Whenever I see this picture I’m reminded of that incredibly humbling moment, and I remember not to take my life of travel and adventure for granted. Do you have a meaningful story from your travels or life in general? Feel free to share in a comment 🌸
Travel Product I Can’t Live Without
I really loved my BeFree Filtered water bottle on my last trip to Chiang Mai! My parents originally brought these when they visited me in Vietnam and I was OBSESSED.
Not only is it great to have a filtered water bottle so you can drink tap water while traveling, but I also love how this bottle folds up to take up almost no space in your bag. It’s a lifesaver when you’re already carrying a heavy purse and DSLR.
Now I’m never, ever tempted to buy plastic water bottles!
What I’m Watching: The Democratic Debates!
I was able to find both Night 1 and Night 2 of the Democratic Debates on Youtube. Yay!! Honestly, I can not tell you how refreshing it was to watch adults debate and discuss politics rationally by using facts and policy plans.
I loved watching them debate whether we should abolish private healthcare for a single-payer healthcare plan, or just provide a “Medicare for all plan” in addition to private insurance. I also loved watching them discuss what exactly to do about immigration and migrants, rather than trying to convince us that the migrant… excuse me, CONCENTRATION CAMPS, are perfectly cushy while people are literally dying there.
I’m honestly really excited to see who comes out on top. While I do have a few favorites, I’d pretty much vote for any one of them over Trump at this point…
Best Reads of June
Here are my favorite blog posts from the month of June!
Why You Should Travel to Bhutan – Oneika the Traveler
I’ve been dying to visit Bhutan for a while now, and I love this intensive guide!
Someone Tried to Break Into My Hotel Room While I Was Traveling Solo – Be My Travel Muse
I love how this post is a good reminder to keep yourself safe, while also not focusing on fear mongering (like many of these posts do). Here’s how you can protect yourself while still enjoying your solo trip!
My 13 Most Ridiculous Hostel Experiences – Neverending Footsteps
I love hostels. They’re a great way to meet people (especially when traveling solo) and you always end up with some crazy stories!
The Future of Hippie in Heels – Hippie in Heels
As many of you may know, Rachel from Hippie in Heels passed away in May. It was an incredibly sad time for many of us in the travel blogging community, so it’s nice to get an update from her family about her legacy and all of the amazing posts she’d written that will now be published for everyone to see.
That’s my brother on the keyboard!
What’s Next For July 2019?
This month I’ll probably be spending the whole month in Hoi An, Vietnam, however, there’s a possibility I may fly to either Seoul or Kuala Lumpur to see my brother perform with Sabrina Claudio (he’s in her band and has produced some of her songs) at one of the music festivals on their Asia tour! I’ve actually never seen them perform live before (seriously, I missed them performing Coachella), so I really hope I can make it work!
8 comments on “The Freedom Life: June 2019”
WOW! Even talking to you regularly I learn so much more from your blog!!! You have a crazy (but fun) life!
PS: thanks for link to Derek too!
hahaha yeah sometimes I forget about all the stuff that’s going on until I actually sit down and write these recaps!
Being self-employed takes determination and self-confidence. But being self-employed and applying for Survivor takes the game to a whole different level.
hahaha true! Not sure what I will do with my blog and business if I make the show, but that’s something I can worry about when it actually happens!
Love your blogs! I am moving to China in a few weeks with my family and it is awesome how prepared you have made me feel! Thank you!
That’s amazing! Thank you so much and I hope you have an incredible time in China
Thank you! We will be in Beijing, so I have been through your blogs like crazy. You are a talented writer. Keep it up!